Should You Ever Do as Many Reps as Possible?

April 19, 2017
man doing pushups

Maybe you’ve heard of “training to failure,” which requires you to perform a movement until you literally can’t anymore. Note: it’s not for beginners, and it’s not necessary for great results.

But there are other approaches to “as many reps as possible,” or AMRAP, which could be a great way for you to change up your workouts, break through plateaus and reach new goals.


Opponents of AMRAP training point out that it can be unsafe to work to failure with heavy weights. Especially if you work out alone. You could wind up pinned underneath your bench press or could fall over if you fail on an overhead press. Have a spotter if you’re going to work this way, and be sure you work to technical failure not muscle failure—in other words, do as many reps as you can with good form. If you can’t keep your technique intact, you’re done.

Use Body Weight Instead

AMRAP works well with bodyweight exercise. Not only is the risk of injury is reduced without weights, but also, each workout can bring you noticeably closer to your goal. With bodyweight exercises you can safely perform as many quality, consecutive repetitions as you can one day and watch that number creep up session-by-session.

Have you thought of a strength goal in terms of an ultimate number of repetitions you aim to do for a certain exercise—say, 20 perfect push-ups? On the day you accomplish 10 consecutive push-ups, you might find that you can actually do 11. A short rest and a second set might yield 9 more. Next week, that first set of reps could increase to 13… before long, you’ll make it to 20 in a row.

Change Reps to Rounds

Timing your exercise intervals is an almost foolproof way to use an “as many as possible” approach to benefit your training, but instead of repetitions, your “R” will stand for rounds. That means, you’ll do as many of a particular exercise, for example, bodyweight squats, as you can in a short time period. And then you’ll move on to the next exercise, and the next, circuit-style.

Target your total amount of time and do as many rounds as possible. If you have 20 minutes, the amount of reps you will fit into each round will increase as you get stronger, so, this works for any fitness level. You’ll do your squats, push-ups and lunges at a pace that allows you to get as many as you can done with good control in 30 – 60 seconds. When you return to the next round, you’ll do as many as you can with good form again.

If you’re working hard, it will likely be fewer each round as you fatigue. But you’re not trying for an ultimate number of reps, just AMRAP!

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